'We need to lean on his experience': Bison CB Price to play an expanded role versus Montana in FCS playoffs
NDSU senior cornerback Jayden Price has started 24 games during his Bison career.
FARGO — North Dakota State senior cornerback Jayden Price is used to playing meaningful snaps in big situations, starting in 24 games the previous two seasons. That experience is likely to prove valuable at 2:30 p.m. Saturday when the Bison play Montana in the second round of the Division I FCS playoffs at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome.
The Grizzlies have an explosive passing game and Price is likely to play a more elevated role with cornerback Marques Sigle entering the transfer portal after the regular season. Price is the team's third cornerback with Destin Talbert and Courtney Eubanks the starters.
“I’m sure I will get a lot more snaps," said Price, from Derby, Kan. “I’ve always been waiting for my moment, been waiting for my opportunity so I’ve just got to take advantage of it.”
Price has played in 52 games during his Bison career; this year he has 13 tackles and two passes defended in 11 games. He was fourth on the team in snaps at cornerback during the regular season, according to Pro Football Focus. Sigle was third among CBs in snaps behind Talbert and Eubanks.
"We're fortunate to have a fifth-year player like him that is an outstanding return specialist," said Bison head coach Matt Entz. "But he's played a lot of football. We need to lean on his experience. There's going to be more reps for him and there is not a young man that is more prepared than him."
The 6-foot, 184-pound Price has been a dynamic punt returner during his Bison career, with three punt returns for touchdowns over the past three seasons. This season he has one punt return for a TD and is averaging 14.0 yards per return.
Montana quarterback Lucas Johnson has completed 179 of 291 passes (62%) for 2,163 yards and 21 touchdowns with seven interceptions in 11 games. He's averaging 196.6 passing yards per game.
The 6-foot-3, 223-pound Johnson completed 18 of 37 passes for 306 yards and two touchdowns and one interception in a 34-24 comeback victory against Southeast Missouri State in the first round of the FCS playoffs.
Grizzlies senior receiver Malik Flowers had seven catches for 108 yards against SEMO, adding an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown that helped the Grizzlies rally from a 21-point second half deficit. Montana scored the game's final 31 points.
“They like to give their receivers a shot, throw it up, give them 50-50 balls," Price said. "We're going to have to be detailed with our technique and prevent explosive plays."
Eubanks and Talbert have started every game this season, and Price also has significant starting experience.
“I think all three of us are confident players," Price said. “It allows more opportunities for the three of us to make more plays and we’ve just got to take advantage of them.”
Price said he was able to go home for Thanksgiving because No. 3 seed NDSU had a bye in the first round of the playoffs. That was a good time for a mental reset and give his body an extra week to heal after an 11-game regular season.
“It’s a big advantage with guys being able to recover a little bit," Price said.
The Bison defense is allowing 17.4 points per game and 147.2 passing yards per game entering the postseason. NDSU is limiting teams to less than 300 yards per game.
Price likes how the defense is playing, but added the unit hasn't yet played a complete game.
“I feel like we’ve been super close, but not exactly how we wanted," Price said. “We’re striving to get there.”